Carrot-Fennel-Fig Chutney: Move Over Thanksgiving Cranberry

For most, Thanksgiving means a lot of food and a lot of fat. According to some sources the average American can eat approximately 3,000 calories for Thanksgiving.  And in these calories is the equivalent of a stick plus two tablespoons of butter.

Overeating, and eating too much fat, can give anyone heartburn.  And, for those with GERD, this can be a recipe for disaster.

Heartburn describes the symptoms experienced with acid reflux and GERD, which occurs with greater frequency and severity.  It can feel like burning behind the breast-bone that can continue up the neck and in the throat.  The pain can be so intense, coupled with tightness in the chest, it’s not surprising that the symptoms may be confused with a heart attack.

The burning sensation is cause by stomach acid coming into contact with the fragile tissue of the esophagus.  Between the esophagus and the stomach, the lower esophageal sphincter (LES)—a muscle, acts like a rubber band to tighten and close the esophagus from the stomach.  However, when we eat too much fat, spicy or acidic foods for example, it might not tighten as it should allowing acid from the stomach to get into the esophagus.

Acid reflux and GERD can often be managed with weight loss, smoking cessation, avoiding alcohol, eating fewer fatty foods and steer away from spicy or acidic foods.

There are lots of ways to lower the fat and keep all the flavor in your holiday menu. But the traditional cranberry relish is an acidic menace for those with GERD.

My Carrot-Fennel-Fig Chutney is low in acid ingredients and low in fat. It calls for non-irritating spices for lots of flavor. And it pairs perfectly with traditional Thanksgiving menus and dinners with pork, chicken, winter squash, sweet potatoes, radicchio and broccoli rabe. Plus, it’s a versatile leftover for breakfast, snacks and lunches.

Breakfast:  Try stirring some of the Carrot-Fennel-Chutney into your morning oatmeal or yogurt. Add to low-fat cottage cheese.  Spread on toast, broiled low-fat cheese on toast or nut butter* on toast.

Snacks: Pair with almond butter*, low-fat cheese and stone-ground mustard on whole wheat crackers or apple or pair wedges. Serve over baked low-fat mini cheese wheels as a warm appetizer that can be spread on toasted whole wheat pita triangles.

Lunch: Sandwich between two slices whole grain bread with low-fat cheese and apple slices or roll into a wrap with fresh spinach and pumpkin hummus.  Extend with water or vinegar and dress an arugula and radicchio salad.

*Marks food that may be high fat and may cause acid reflux.

Carrot-Fennel-Fig Chutney

Makes about 1 cup

Prep time:  11 minutes

Cook time: 10-12 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

What you’ll need:

  • ¼ cup dried figs, stemmed and chopped
  • ¾ cup chopped carrots
  • ½ cup chopped fennel
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (optional with the omission of 2 tablespoons of water)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/16 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Steps to make:

Step 1

Into a medium saucepan, add the stemmed and chopped figs, carrots, fennel water, sugar and spices.  Cover and bring the water to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle boil.  Cook covered for 10-12 minutes.

Step 2

Uncover the mixture and allow the liquid to reduce to about 2-4 tablespoons.  Turn off the heat.  If you are opting to add the vanilla, add it now.  Use a potato masher to mash the mixture several times.

Serve immediately.  Or chill covered in the refrigerator.

Nutrition (11/12/2021)

Per 2 tablespoons:  43 calories; 0.3 g protein; 10.9 g carbohydrates; 1.0 g fiber; 6.3 g added sugar; 0.1 g total fat; 0.01 g saturated fat; 0.01 g monounsaturated fat; 0.1 g polyunsaturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 11.7 mg sodium